Wahkiakum County, Washington

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Wahkiakum County, Washington
Cathlamet, WA - Wahkiakum County Courthouse 01.jpg
Wahkiakum County Courthouse (July 2015)
Map of Washington highlighting Wahkiakum County
Location in the U.S. state of Washington
Map of the United States highlighting Washington
Washington's location in the U.S.
Founded 24 April, 1854
Seat Cathlamet
Largest town Puget Island
Area
 • Total 287 sq mi (743 km2)
 • Land 263 sq mi (681 km2)
 • Water 24 sq mi (62 km2), 8.3%
Population (est.)
 • (2017) 4,264
 • Density 15/sq mi (6/km2)
Congressional district 3rd
Time zone Pacific: UTC−8/−7
Website www.co.wahkiakum.wa.us

Wahkiakum County /wəˈk.əkʌm/ is a county located in the U.S. state of Washington. As of the 2010 census, the population was 3,978,[1] making it the second-least populous county in Washington. The county seat and only incorporated town is Cathlamet.[2] The county was formed out of Cowlitz County in April 1854[3] and is named for Chief Wahkiakum ("Tall Timber") of the Chinook, who is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Cathlamet.[4]

The County operates the Wahkiakum County Ferry, which connects Cathlamet to Westport, Oregon, across the Columbia River.

History[edit]

Prior to the Europeans' arrival to the area, it was inhabited by numerous Native American tribes, with the Cowlitz tribe being the largest. They were drawn to the region by the abundance of salmon. The Cowlitz are considered to be the first regional inhabitants to engage in commerce as they traded extensively with other tribes in Western and Eastern Washington. The Cowlitz Indian population declined significantly from the 1829-1830 smallpox outbreak.

European explorers discovered and began navigating the Columbia River in 1792 as British Lieutenant W. R. Broughton sailed up the river to and past present day Cowlitz County. Then on 5 November 1805, Lewis and Clark camped at the mouth of the Kalama River. Over the following days, they would reach the present sites of Kelso and Longview.

By the 1820s, the Hudson's Bay Company had established a lucrative fur trade in the region. Furs were shipped down the Cowlitz River to the Columbia where they were loaded and shipped around the world. Trade declined significantly in the late 1830s as over-hunting reduced the annual yields, and wearing fur had become less fashionable.

During the next several decades, white settlement of the region was in full swing. Most of the settlers homesteaded near the tributaries that fed the Columbia River, forming settlements. The first was Monticello, near present-day Longview. In 1841 several families with the HBC directed Sinclair expedition from Red River Colony settled there.

On 25 November 1852 at Monticello, settlers from the Cowlitz and Puget Sound regions drafted a petition (the Monticello Convention) to the federal government, calling for a separate territory north of the Columbia River to be carved out of the existing Oregon Territory. The petition was successful; three months later the United States Congress formed the Columbia Territory, although it was soon renamed Washington Territory.

The newly-separated territory was governed by two existing counties. In August 1845, the Oregon Territorial government had created Vancouver County. Its boundary covered the entire area of present-day Washington state. In December of that same year, the Oregon Territorial government sliced off the eastern portion to create Lewis County. In 1849 the reduced Vancouver County was renamed Clark County. So when the new Washington Territorial government began functioning, among its first actions was the creation of Cowlitz County, from the southwestern portion of Clark County. This proclamation was finalized on 24 April 1854, signed into law by Governor Isaac Stevens. Later in 1854, the western portion of the new county was partitioned off to form Wahkiakum County.

The town of Cathlamet is the county seat and only incorporated town in Wahkiakum County. The name comes from the Chinook word Calamet, meaning "stone" and was given to the tribe because they lived along a stretch of rocky river bed. Cathlamet was first sighted by European explorers in 1792 during the Vancouver Expedition by Lt. W.R Broughton. In 1805, the Lewis & Clark Expedition found the Kathlamet and Wahkiakum tribes living here during their Northwest Expedition and they camped at the present day Vista Park in Skamokawa where they traded with the local tribe.

James Birnie of the Hudson Bay Company settled in the county in 1846 and named the area Birnie's Retreat. Rose Birnie, the area's first formal schoolteacher, arrived in 1850 to organize classes for her brother’s family. In 1855 she and George Barber Roberts were married. Their home, built in 1857, is the oldest surviving house in Wahkiakum County (it is preserved as the Julia Butler Hansen Heritage Center). The home now is the Visitors Center for the Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce. Birnie's Retreat was later changed to Cathlamet in 1851.

In 1866, William Hume started the Columbia RIver canning industry, preserving fish in eastern Wahkiakum County. More canneries soon followed.[4]


Geography[edit]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 287 square miles (740 km2), of which 263 square miles (680 km2) is land and 24 square miles (62 km2) (8.3%) is water.[5] It is the smallest county of Washington by total area and the third-smallest by land area, ahead of San Juan County and Island County, which are mostly water by area.

Geographic features[edit]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected area[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
186042
1870270542.9%
18801,598491.9%
18902,52658.1%
19002,81911.6%
19103,28516.5%
19203,4725.7%
19303,86211.2%
19404,28611.0%
19503,835−10.5%
19603,426−10.7%
19703,5924.8%
19803,8326.7%
19903,327−13.2%
20003,82414.9%
20103,9784.0%
Est. 20174,264[6]7.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
1790–1960[8] 1900–1990[9]
1990–2000[10] 2010–2016[1]

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 3,824 people, 1,553 households, and 1,108 families residing in the county. The population density was 14 people per square mile (6/km²). There were 1,792 housing units at an average density of 7 per square mile (3/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 93.46% White, 0.26% Black or African American, 1.57% Native American, 0.47% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.65% from other races, and 2.51% from two or more races. 2.56% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 18.7% were of German, 13.1% Norwegian, 10.6% United States or American, 9.1% English, 7.7% Irish, 6.5% Swedish, and 5.9% Finnish ancestry. 96.7% spoke English and 2.5% Spanish as a first language.

There were 1,553 households out of which 26.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.40% were married couples living together, 6.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.60% were non-families. 24.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.40% under the age of 18, 5.30% from 18 to 24, 22.20% from 25 to 44, 30.60% from 45 to 64, and 18.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 100.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,444, and the median income for a family was $47,604. Males had a median income of $37,123 versus $27,938 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,063. About 5.90% of families and 8.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.00% of those under age 18 and 2.70% of those age 65 or over.

Wahkiakum County has the second lowest population of any county in Washington state. Its population of 3,978 is 0.2% the size of the population of Washington's largest county, King.

2010 census[edit]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 3,978 people, 1,737 households, and 1,187 families residing in the county.[12] The population density was 15.1 inhabitants per square mile (5.8/km2). There were 2,067 housing units at an average density of 7.8 per square mile (3.0/km2).[13] The racial makeup of the county was 94.0% white, 1.3% American Indian, 0.6% Asian, 0.3% black or African American, 0.2% Pacific islander, 0.7% from other races, and 3.1% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 2.7% of the population.[12] In terms of ancestry, 19.8% were Norwegian, 19.3% were German, 13.3% were English, 9.6% were American, 8.5% were Swedish, and 6.8% were Irish.[14]

Of the 1,737 households, 21.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.2% were married couples living together, 6.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 31.7% were non-families, and 26.8% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.69. The median age was 52.3 years.[12]

The median income for a household in the county was $40,372 and the median income for a family was $47,266. Males had a median income of $44,779 versus $36,111 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,115. About 7.1% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.5% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.[15]

Politics[edit]

In the 2016 Presidential election Donald Trump won the county over Hillary Clinton by a decisive margin – 55.3% to 34.3%.[16] It is generally a swing county in presidential elections.

Presidential Elections Results
Presidential Elections Results[17]
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2016 55.3% 1,344 34.3% 832 10.4% 253
2012 48.4% 1,119 47.3% 1,094 4.3% 100
2008 47.9% 1,105 48.6% 1,121 3.5% 80
2004 52.4% 1,171 45.7% 1,021 1.9% 43
2000 52.4% 1,033 40.7% 803 7.0% 137
1996 33.7% 619 50.3% 924 16.0% 293
1992 27.2% 488 38.8% 696 34.1% 612
1988 38.7% 629 59.1% 961 2.2% 36
1984 44.6% 776 53.5% 930 1.9% 33
1980 46.6% 828 42.2% 751 11.2% 199
1976 41.2% 704 55.1% 942 3.7% 64
1972 47.4% 818 46.1% 796 6.5% 112
1968 38.3% 641 53.7% 899 8.1% 135
1964 27.5% 446 72.4% 1,175 0.2% 3
1960 46.2% 796 53.6% 923 0.2% 3
1956 45.7% 808 53.9% 953 0.3% 6
1952 46.3% 815 52.7% 928 1.0% 17
1948 39.0% 622 54.9% 877 6.1% 98
1944 34.4% 532 64.9% 1,003 0.7% 10
1940 35.2% 642 63.8% 1,164 1.0% 19
1936 26.5% 419 69.4% 1,098 4.2% 66
1932 32.4% 442 53.5% 730 14.1% 192
1928 59.3% 578 39.2% 382 1.5% 15
1924 60.5% 496 10.9% 89 28.7% 235
1920 57.6% 494 19.1% 164 23.2% 199
1916 52.1% 490 36.1% 340 11.8% 111
1912 31.9% 282 20.9% 185 47.2% 417
1908 70.8% 485 21.9% 150 7.3% 50
1904 72.9% 473 15.6% 101 11.6% 75
1900 61.8% 396 32.3% 207 5.9% 38
1896 42.1% 290 57.5% 396 0.4% 3
1892 46.2% 239 43.5% 225 10.3% 53

Communities[edit]

Town[edit]

Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 9 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 7 June 2011. 
  3. ^ "Milestones for Washington State History — Part 2: 1851 to 1900". HistoryLink.org. 6 March 2003. 
  4. ^ a b History of Wahkiakum County
  5. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  6. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  7. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  12. ^ a b c "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  13. ^ "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 – County". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  14. ^ "Selected Social Characteristics in the United States – 2006–2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  15. ^ "Selected Economic Characteristics – 2006–2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  16. ^ US Elections Atlas
  17. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 10 April 2018. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°17′N 123°26′W / 46.29°N 123.43°W / 46.29; -123.43